What image comes to mind when you think of the classic hard sell? It’s a used car salesman making the sale, isn’t it?

Even though the industry has refined the process tremendously, we still have that mental image of the pushy used car salesman, nickel and diming you with add-ons, having endless conversations with “the manager” and doing everything in his power to corner you into signing your name like some kind of polyester-clad Faustian nightmare.

(As an aside, is your mental image of a used car salesman smoking a cigar? Why is that? We all have that same mental picture, but when’s the last time you saw someone smoking a cigar at a car lot? We digress.)

And while the pre-owned automotive industry bears the reputation the hardest, you’ll see these tactics everywhere, from timeshares to toothpaste.

The one place you won’t see them, however, is online. That’s because here, where a graceful exit from an obnoxious sales pitch is just a closed browser tab away, your audience already has their guard up and they have no patience for pushiness. Online, you have to work a little differently.

In the classic film, “Enter the Dragon,” Bruce Lee describes his kung fu technique as “the art of fighting without fighting.” Consider this, then, the art of selling without selling.

Welcome them to the club

When your customers create a log-in for your page, follow you on social, sign up for your newsletter and initiate buy-in, it should feel like they’re stepping past a velvet rope and into the VIP section.

This plays off the psychological technique known as scarcity – if people perceive that there is less of something, they will perceive greater value in it. By giving them a sense of exclusivity, you lend a subtle degree of increased value by being your customer.

Drive this home by using language in your marketing that makes them feel like part of a secret club “… this offer is reserved for our fans and followers only,” “We’re proud to offer this to friends of Business X exclusively through our newsletter,” etc.

Keep the selling off social

Your customers are bombarded with advertising whenever they hop on social media. As much value as there may be in your product or service, a straightforward sales pitch is going to be nothing but white noise.

If you want to let people know about sales you’re having or new offerings, by all means, go for it. But remember that social media is a tool for engagement first and foremost. Your social media presence should reflect this. Interact with customers. Strengthen your brand through lifestyle-oriented imagery and content. Put your business out there as a subject matter expert.

Then, gently guide them back to your site and let them find out the value of your product or service on their own.

Make it about them, not you

Look, you know you have a great product. But all your customers know is their needs. Find out what problems of theirs your product can solve, and the frame your pitch around that solution.

What you want to do is make yourself an active partner in your potential customer’s business. You’re not selling them a product, you’re acting as a trusted advisor in alleviating their pain points. And if one of those pain points happens to be easily solved with your product or service, suddenly they feel like a genius for reaching out to you in the first place.

Yes, it takes more time. But selling isn’t a race.

[RELATED: Doing it Right: 3 Blogs Using Content to Sell]

Know when to make a sale

And here’s where we poke a great big old hole in this whole “selling without selling” idea. After all, if you’ve ever seen the classic film, “Enter the Dragon,” you’ll notice that Bruce Lee winds up doing a heck of a lot of fighting for a guy who says he’s not fighting.

At some point, you are going to have to put the value proposition out there and walk the customer through that closing door. But that’s where you bring back what we’ve talked about so far. Remind them that they’re a valued member of an elite circle who are eligible for your product or service. Keep the same knowledgeable but friendly tone you’ve established in your social media presence. And when you put your product out there, remember that it’s about the solution you’re creating, not the product or service your selling.

If you’re ready to sell solutions, give us a call at 904.359.4318, or fill out our contact form. Our experts can help you market your business the right way.

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